Returnships & Returner Opportunities - Inclusivity - Reigniting Careers


Despite the Women in Finance Charter over the last 5 years, and over 370 signatories, the sum total increase of women at senior management moved from 31% in 2018 to 32% in 2019. And I can’t say it surprised me. Despite the placards, awards ceremonies, and marketing D&I blitzes, what has actually changed on the ground level of how organisations source female talent has changed very little.

Are these organisations serious about increasing the representation of women in their organisations or are they merely signatories for show? Below are the six most simple strategies to employ to increase your reach of female talent.

What are you waiting for?

  1. Job advertisements need to explicitly state that you are open to applications requesting flexible working arrangements. Whether it be some home working, flexible start/finish times, or a 4 day week, you need to recognise that 41% of the female talent pool work part-time (less than 32 hours per week). You can’t just ignore this talent pool and then complain you can’t find female talent.
  2. Knowing the above, you need a broader strategy on where and how you advertise. Placing advertisements only on Indeed and Linkedin won’t work, it’s not where women hang out. In fact many women I’ve worked with aren’t even on Linkedin. Instead there are numerous female friendly job boards with tens of thousands of female followers. There are also numerous facebook groups set up to support women’s careers that also allow companies to post roles. Do your homework and get your adverts out to a much broader audience.
  3. Use better language. When in doubt use Textio. Get rid of words like ambition, ninja, fast-paced, leader, and replace with collaborate, team, develop. Stop writing out wish-lists of you must have this, this and this. Instead focus on the core key skills the role requires and leave your bathroom sinks at home.
  4. Check your Applicant Tracking System. The majority of ATS are coded by men and are thus based on male career trajectories. Does your system allow someone to upload their CV if they don’t have a current job title? Must they put in Parent or Carer or Returning from illness if they are returning to their career? And does anyone in your team search these titles? If not then you are missing talent. It’s lazy recruitment to only search under Current Job Title, yet so many Applicant Tracking Systems are set up to precisely do this, ruling out numerous candidates, especially women who may be returning from a break, or currently working in a role below their previous role.
  5. Expand your own Linkedin network. Is your network filled with people who look and sound like you? Then that’s who see your roles. If you want to use Linkedin effectively you need to expand your reach to include all ages, all races, all genders. Do not make assumptions on who is right for you and who is not – remember people know people. Your job is to ensure the opportunities are presented to the widest possible audience.
  6. Consider a Returners programme. Many women decide to pause their careers when children are younger; mainly due to inflexible work practices. Life stages change and these women have loads of ambition and unfulfilled potential left. They are waiting for forward thinking organisations to snap them up.

It seems to me that if you’re an organisation seeking more gender diversity in your teams then you’ve got to get the basics right before you can cry “We can’t find any women!”